Green Building News

Green Building News October 2007

October 4, 2007

Global Survey Shows "Green" Construction Costs Dramatically Lower Than Believed

Survey finds green costs overestimated by 300 percent and a need to foster zero net energy construction.

Key players in real estate and construction misjudge the costs and benefits of "green" buildings, creating a major barrier to more energy efficiency in the building sector, a new study by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) reports.

Respondents to a 1400 person global survey estimated the additional cost of building green at 17 percent above conventional construction, more than triple the true cost difference of about 5 percent. At the same time, survey respondents put greenhouse gas emissions by buildings at 19 percent of world total, while the actual number of 40 percent is double this.

The findings are disclosed in a new report titled Energy Efficiency in Buildings: Business Realities and Opportunities, which summarizes the first phase of the WBCSD's project. The project is co-chaired by Lafarge and United Technologies Corporation. Other participating companies are CEMEX, DuPont, Electricité de France, Gaz de France, Kansai, Philips, Sonae Sierra, and Tepco.

"The global construction boom in the developing world has created a tremendous opportunity to build differently and dramatically decrease energy demands," said United Technologies Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive George David.

"Existing technologies combined with common sense design can increase energy efficiency by 35 percent and reduce heating costs by 80 percent for the average building in industrialized markets," he said.

“The world is undergoing rapid transformation, with strong demographic and economic growth driving a move towards urbanization on an unprecedented scale. We as industry leaders have a responsibility to ensure that this growth is achieved in a sustainable manner,” said Bruno Lafont, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lafarge.

“Life cycle analysis shows that 80 to 85 percent of the total energy consumption and CO 2 emissions of a building comes from occupancy through heating, cooling, ventilation and hot water use. If we want to make an impact on climate change, we therefore need to tackle this challenge. Combining the right materials when designing a building envelope can greatly reduce a building's energy requirements, increase its life span and ensure consistent performance over time,” he said.

"In order to achieve a step change in energy efficiency in buildings, there is a need for strongly supportive policies and regulatory frameworks. Governments and local authorities need to develop sound policies," said Bjorn Stigson, President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

The study also found that fewer than one in seven industry respondents has participated directly in a green building project. Involvement ranges from a high of 45 percent in Germany to just 5 percent in India. About 20 percent of architects, engineers and developers have been involved in green building projects, compared to just 9 percent of owners and tenants.

Buildings already represent approximately 40 percent of primary energy use globally and energy consumption in buildings is projected to rise substantially in the world's most populous and fast growing countries such as China and India.

The study highlights opportunities to promote green building know how and technologies as the WBCSD pushes for zero net energy construction worldwide. Zero net energy buildings will reduce demand by design, be highly efficient and generate at least as much energy as they consume.

The WBCSD's Energy Efficiency in Buildings Project is a three year initiative to assess the environmental impacts of buildings and develop means to achieve zero net energy use for residential and commercial buildings.

Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, the WBCSD is a global association of about 200 companies that serves as a business advocate for sustainable development through economic growth, ecological balance and social progress. Its members are drawn from more than 35 countries and 20 major industrial sectors worldwide.


The Hasson Company Green Team Agents Take Earth Advantage S.T.A.R. Certification Course

Twenty years ago, recycling was a fairly new concept that very few people practiced. Today, it seems that every home on the block has multiple recycling containers sitting at the curb specifically intended for yard debris, newspapers, garbage and more. Everywhere you turn, the “Green” buzz is escalating and very soon this trend will be a common way of life. Builders and remodeling companies are beginning to incorporate green living and sustainable features into every home they construct.
The Hasson Company’s Green Team embraces this trend by providing its agents with the education and skills necessary for this imminent culture change. Forty-three agents with Hasson’s Green Team recently completed the Earth Advantage S.T.A.R. certification course, further strengthening their expertise and knowledge base about sustainable living. 
The Earth Advantage S.T.A.R. designation program is a two-day certification course that explores green building, sustainable features in existing homes, eco-friendly terminology and how to communicate these concepts to buyers and sellers. Those who successfully complete the program and pass an online exam will receive certification as Earth Advantage S.T.A.R. Accredited Professional Brokers. Only 19 Realtors in the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area currently hold this designation.
Through the Earth Advantage S.T.A.R. certification course, Hasson Green Team agents will be able to better serve their clients with their understanding of an ever-changing market.
“When a homeowner speaks with one of our Green Certified agents about the best ways to market his or her Green home, we are poised on the leading edge of the industry to help them,” says Mike Hasson, President and owner of The Hasson Company Realtors. “Even buyers who are concerned about indoor air quality and energy efficiency can work with one of our Green agents. We will provide them with a broad knowledge base and access to resources to help them make educated decisions when purchasing homes that exemplify the green lifestyle.”


Shopping For Value, Comfort And Quality

If you’re looking for energy-saving features in your new home, you’re in good company.
Recent homebuyer surveys have found that energy efficiency is the top upgrade homebuyers choose in new homes. Builders following the Department of Energy’s Building America guidelines build homes that are more durable, energy efficient, more comfortable and have better indoor air quality than the average new American home.

The rising demand has made it easier to find energy-efficient homes since builders find it is easier to sell them.

Since the energy efficiency features found in these homes vary by region, the Department of Energy has created a series of Energy Efficiency Guides, titled “Building America’s Best Practices Series,” showing contractors how to build energy-saving homes in different climates around the country. The Building America approach has so far been used in the design of more than 25,000 houses in 34 states.

The Best Practices also include information and a checklist that a homeowner can use when shopping for an energy efficient home. Recently released Volume 2 of the Best Practices covers the hot, dry climate area of the Southwest.

Features that work in the Southwest include windows that help keep the area near the window cooler and block the ultraviolet light from the sun which causes fading of drapes and furniture. Other features include compact and tightly sealed ducts which make the heating and cooling system operate more efficiently and high-efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.

One way to know you have found an energy-efficient home is to look for the ENERGY STAR® label. ENERGY STAR homes are built to strict energy-efficiency guidelines using proven technologies and construction practices.

Depending on how a builder structures his costs, the home’s size and design and the prevailing cost of building materials, the additional cost of an energy-efficient home may range from zero to $1,500 or more. The investment in energy efficient measures may raise the purchase price, but through lower monthly utility bills, those costs can be recovered over time.

Lenders have developed energy-efficient mortgages to encourage consumers to purchase these types of homes. These mortgages can make it easier to buy more home for your money.

Homes use more than 20 percent of the energy consumed annually in the U.S. The Building America program aims for a future when homes will become zero-energy homes and produce as much energy as they use.


Bright Idea: Change a Light, Change the World with Energy Star - EPA Chief Launches 10 City National Tour to Promote Energy Efficiency

A bright idea hits the road on a national tour to promote energy efficient lighting as an easy, effective and money-saving way for American households to help fight climate change. EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson kicked off the 10-city, 20-day ENERGY STAR® Change-a-Light Bus Tour today at Disneyland.

If every U.S. household changed just one light bulb or fixture to an ENERGY STAR bulb, each year our country would save $600 million in energy costs, enough energy to light 3 million homes, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions from more than 800,000 cars. Lighting accounts for about 20 percent of a home's electricity use. ENERGY STAR qualified light bulbs and fixtures use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent lighting, with bulbs that last six to ten times longer. One ENERGY STAR qualified bulb can save about $30 or more in energy costs over its lifetime.

EPA and the Department of Energy are sponsoring the tour to raise awareness of the benefits of energy efficient lighting choices. The ENERGY STAR Change a Light Bus Tour will cross the country following this itinerary:

Oct. 3 Anaheim, Calif. Oct. 14 Indianapolis, Ind.
Oct. 4 San Francisco, Calif. Oct. 15 Atlanta, Ga.
Oct. 7-9 Denver, Colo. Oct. 18 Maplewood, N.J.
Oct. 10 Des Moines, Iowa Oct. 19-20 Boston, Mass.
Oct. 12-13 Chicago, Ill. Oct. 23 New York City, N.Y.

At each tour stop, an outdoor interactive education center will be set up with interactive displays to convey the importance of our lighting choices, how to use and dispose of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) responsibly and the connection between our personal energy use and our climate. The education center is cosponsored by JCPenney.

The Change-a-Light campaign promotes lighting that has earned the government's ENERGY STAR label for efficiency as a first step toward saving energy. The campaign encourages individuals to take the online ENERGY STAR Change a Light pledge. The pledge is a public commitment to change out at least one inefficient light at home with an energy-efficient one. To date, nearly 900,000 Americans in every state and U.S. territory have pledged to change more than 2 million lights.

The bus is being provided by Motor Coach Industries (MCI), a large North American manufacturer of inter-city motor coaches. MCI's bus is a state-of-the-art J4500 LX motor coach, powered by a 2007 EPA-model clean diesel engine fitted with a particulate scrubber, and fueled by ultra low sulfur diesel. One bus can displace the need for more than 50 passenger cars on our nation's highways.


EEBA Excellence in Building Conference & Expo - Oct. 9-11

25th Anniversary Excellence in Building Conference & Expo, Crowne Plaza St. Paul Riverfront - St. Paul, MN. Educational sessions, speakers and exhibit hall.


Greenbuild International Conference & Expo - Nov. 7-9

Greenbuild 2007 will take place in Chicago at the new McCormick Place West Building. Educational sessions, speakers, special events and tours, and exhibit hall.

Greenfestival San Francisco - Nov. 9-11

More than 150 speakers, 400 green businesses, how-to workshops, organic beer and wine, delicious organic cuisine and diverse live music are offered at Greenfestival, San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center.

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